The Morghun Host (title image)

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The Unit
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The Naming of my Clan

This is how my clan was named, and where we learned to fear the outside world, for quite some time.

Many decades ago, in a time when the world smelled cleaner, and there were forests infinitely larger than those we have left today, I roamed happily. There were a lot fewer people back then, what with the cataclysm and all, and those of my race that hadn't been slaughtered in various nasty racial wars were on the road to recovery. I personally, had joined up with a group of wood elves (like attracting like, and all) and had ventured off into the oceans of the land, as the great forests were known, to find somewhere away from it all for a century or two.

We had been in the trees for a few weeks, making temporary camps, and then moving on, not totally convinced by any of the locations that we had found, and at one point spotted smoke. On closer investigation we found it to be a small settlement of humans, clinging to a meagre existence miles from anywhere. We skirted their hovels and move ever onwards. Weeks passed into months, and we found a place. It was next to a gently bubbling river, overhung with willow trees, with the banks teeming with forest flowers, and the waters teeming with fish.

Mindful of any Dryads that might inhabit the area, we set to building our houses in the boughs of our lofty companions, and settled into a domestically blissful existence, even to the point of naming our group, essentially starting a new clan, Tatharlas, or Willowleaf in the common tongue. We lived there without seeing another race for nigh twenty years, until one fateful day A rending noise was heard not far from our quiet home. Several of us were dispatched in a hurry to see what was going on. I grabbed my trusty sword and threw on a green tunic (I had been sunbathing), and disappeared into the forest with my companions.

It didn't take us long to find the source of the sound. It was a fallen tree, and around it stood some men with axes and saws, not more than ten minutes walk from our village! This was disturbing, for although we didn't begrudge them the wood, we did not like them being so close to our homes. Twenty years had passed since we had passed their village, and we set out to see why they needed so much wood. In truth we had all but forgotten about our human neighbours. Our mistake. We flitted through the trees, for more than four hours, and as we went, we noticed the smell of wood smoke, hanging thick in the air, presently we happened upon what was for us, a scene of nightmare. Above us towered a great wooden palisade, not yet finished, but still huge. All the trees for several hundred yards had been felled, and the stumps removed. Twenty years had passed, and the men had bred, and prospered. Builders and guardsmen surmounted the walls, and the hammering of iron nails rang loud upon our ears.

We slid away, with our minds full of fear, blending ourselves with the green of our surroundings. Back at our home we relayed what we had seen, and the clan decided to step up the patrols, which we kept several of in the field, looking for dangers, especially bears (the furry sort, not the Caledonian skirt wearing ones). This having been decided, we settled down to see what would happen. We didn't have to wait very long. Not many days after the first visit to the human town, we heard the familiar chopping sounds in the forest, and decided to warn the woodcutters away from our home, as they were now far to close for comfort. Out of the tree line we came, all clad in greens and browns, moving quietly so as not to frighten the humans. It seemed to have the opposite effect, for as we appeared, one man yelled, and as the hue and cry went up, we were set upon. They cried that we were evil spirits and attacked without a second thought, herd mentality taking over.

Panicking and not a little confused by there behaviour, we tried to melt back into the trees, but found ourselves hard pressed to do so. The elf next to me, a scout by the name of Elombrinas went down in front of me, his head rent open by an axe, as I stood transfixed by the scene. Men and elves rushed past me, apparently not seeing me as I stood stock still in amongst the leaves. My clothing had proven perfect camouflage, and as I ran back towards the village I was both glad to be alive, and yet ashamed that my fear had lead to the death of others.

To be continued.

Source: S. Erridge

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